One of the big stories of the preseason for the Las Vegas Raiders was the play of rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell. The fourth-round pick was so impressive that there were some thoughts that head coach Josh McDaniels could potentially jump him ahead of veteran Brian Hoyer as the backup to Jimmy Garoppolo.
But when the Raiders’ final roster was announced the franchise chose to keep all three with Hoyer remaining as the backup and O’Connell being the third quarterback whom the team will look to develop. And this was always the plan as far as McDaniels is concerned.
The Raiders head coach spoke recently on the team’s quarterback situation, saying that the plan was always to go with three quarterbacks on the roster because the franchise felt they were worthy of a roster spot, via Myles Simmons of Pro Football Talk:
“[The plan] was to go with three [QBs], and not for any specific reason other than we felt like we had three guys that were capable of being roster players,” McDaniels said this week, via Adam Hill of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Aidan has obviously got a lot of developing in front of him, Brian has played plenty of football, and obviously we’re excited about Jimmy.”
The move makes sense for the Raiders as Hoyer’s experience makes him the ideal backup to step right up in case of injury while O’Connell can take the time to develop. As McDaniels pointed out, practice opportunities are limited during the regular season, via Simmons:
“As you head into the regular season, nobody but the starter gets many opportunities in practice,” McDaniels said. “So you just have to take into consideration what that would be like, because playing a game with repetitions in practice is different than playing in a game with no repetitions in practice.”
It is an astute point from McDaniels. Hoyer, with 40 career starts under his belt and familiarity with McDaniels’ system, is likely more ready to step in on a moment’s notice without having those practice reps. That is something McConnell has yet to experience and is a difficult situation to be thrust into as a rookie.
McDaniels and the Raiders clearly value O’Connell and believe he is a player worth developing who could eventually become a starter in this league. Hopefully, Garoppolo stays healthy, and neither Hoyer nor O’Connell is needed much this year, but the franchise believes having that veteran around will benefit the team as a whole.